Jaipur Grille: One in Ten Thousand
Toronto is a city of around 5 million people and according to this website, 10,000 restaurants.
Yes. Ten thousand. I’ll be lucky if I get around to trying just the ones in my own neighbourhood.
Although I have discovered many new favourite restaurants in Toronto, this is why I try my best to eat at a new spot any time I go out. I’d like to leave here knowing I tried my best to make a dent in that 10,000.
When my Aunt Heather asked me about trying out Jaipur Grille in the Yonge/Eglinton area, I jumped on the chance.
I’ve been hearing about this restaurant for a while now (some say the best Indian food outside of Little India!). I couldn’t pass up the chance to cross another restaurant off my list.
Jaipur Grille opened 8 years ago by head chef Pawan Mahendro. After years of working in other kitchens in India and Canada, he decided to finally open his own place in Midtown Toronto.
I was immediately struck by how classy this restaurant seemed. Indian restaurants have a tendency to be a little rundown or kitschy. But here I felt like I was part of a fine dining experience.
I wasn’t planning on getting a drink, but the waiter asked if I wanted an Indian beer. The thought of a fresh beer to wash down the spicy food suddenly piqued my tastebuds!
He also brought us some crispy spicy bread. It was a lot like a chip or cracker and fun to munch on while we waited.
The occasion of this particular visit was to experience Jaiper Grille’s Tasting Menu. A great chance to try out tons of menu items at only $25 a head.
We started with a taste of two appetizers. Heather and I each chose the Royal Spinach Kabab: spinach patty filled with cottage cheese, dates and cashews.
It reminded my a lot of these spinach nuggets my mom buys from Costco. Just okay. You couldn’t taste the cashews and the dates only slightly.
My second choice was the Chicken Malai Kabab: chicken breast marinated in fresh cream with cardamom and saffron, finished in the tandoor.
For her second appetizer, Heather tried the Fish Hyderabadi: grouper filet in a light batter, spiced with roasted coriander and carom.
They looked like fish sticks!
Heather and I then both chose the same mains. Must be inherited tastes ;)
Chickpeas in a dark sauce. This was probably my least favourite of the main meal options. I wasn’t a fan of the darker sauce.
Simple potatoes, I ate these with some of the other sauces.
The naan was hot upon arrival. A sign that it’s fresh and as pillowy as possible! The rice was actually one of my favourites. Seasoned with saffron, it really stood out and did not taste boring at all.
A nice cool dipper for the naan to cut the spices of the other dishes. I want to try making this at home!
Xacculi Shrimp: black tiger shrimp cooked in a popular aromatic Goan sauce made with roasted poppy seeds, coconut and red chilli paste.
This was Heather’s favourite because of the rich red sauce. It had jumbo pieces of shrimp without being too spicy.
Shahi Laziz Paneer: home made cottage cheese simmered in a spiced tomato gravy with honey and cream.
This was my favourite. The hard chunks of homemade cottage cheese were amazing. I polished off the rich tomato gravy, which again was more aromatic than spicy. I would order a whole dish of this if I were to go back!
Jalebi & Kheer: Indian funnel cake and rice pudding, garnished with roasted pistachios and almonds.
Dessert was definitely lack lustre after such an amazing meal. We both agreed that East Indian food isn’t really known for its great desserts and we could both do without. The rice pudding was a little soupy and over-spiced. The funnel cake was more like a crunchy candy. Edible, but would not be my first choice for dessert.
Thank you to Heather for taking me out for what I am now deeming the best Indian food I’ve ever had.
We never once broke out into a sweat because of ludicrous spicing. Nothing was too greasy or creamy. The service was fantastic (including a chat with the head chef and his wife!). As a newbie in the tastes of East Indian, it was the perfect example of just how good and flavourful it can be with fresh ingredients, proper cooking methods and inventive flavouring.
Now I just have 9,970 restaurants left to go ;)
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